Stunning Losses Ring In Hard Right America

by Rona Fried  

One thing is for sure about the mid-term election outcomes – Republican control of both houses of Congress is bad news for the majority of Americans who do care about the environment and are excited by a growing renewable energy industry. 

Despite Democrats’ best efforts – some 4 million calls made to get people to vote by just one progressive organization – the majority of voters were mostly older, white male Republicans. 

Senate Republicans now have a filibuster-proof majority to pass legislation that forces President Obama’s hand on the Keystone pipeline, their #2 priority according to Reince Priebus, Chair of the Republican National Committee (I assume repealing Obamacare is #1). 

Here’s what the Empire State Building looked like last night:


While climate change doesn’t make it to the top of peoples’ issue list, poll after poll shows there is strong support for action and yes, government regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Take the latest poll from ABC/Washington Post – 70% surveyed support federal action even if it raises energy prices.

Yet, cutting EPA off at the heels is also one of the GOP’s top goals. They despise any regulation of polluting industries even if it protects Americans’ health through clean air and water. 

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is a good example – the new Chair of the Subcommittee on Science! "The EPA has adopted greenhouse gas regulations on the basis of scientific assumptions that have been totally undermined by the latest science." Which science is that?

And we all know the famous quote by the new chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK): "Global warming is a hoax." 

Most pathetic is that the election follows the release of actual scientists’ final climate change report. In it, IPCC synthesizes three reports issued in 2014 and comes to the same stark conclusions – Act Now. There’s little time left. Only the will to change course is holding us back, the technology is ready and waiting. If we continue this level of greenhouse gas pollution, there will be severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for life on earth. 

It’s almost impossible to believe that after more than 20 years of incontrovertible science, we are still not moving forward on this central issue of our times.    

My belief is that people don’t realize what they are voting for. And for good reason – the election was flooded by oil and coal-soaked money, not to mention the chemical industries and the many others that profit from a completely "free market" economy.

In the last few weeks of the campaign, groups that hadn’t existed before suddenly opened the faucet on tens of millions of dollars. In all, about $4 billion was spent to influence the elections, most of it from conservative dark money groups that don’t disclose donors. For Senate seats alone, there were 908,000 television ads, according to the Center for Public Integrity. 

Isn’t it interesting that voters passed referendums that raised the minimum wage in Nebraska and Arkansas, while electing the very candidates who oppose that? And states like Florida, Wisconsin, Kansas and Maine, re-elected governors who have implemented deficit-creating tax cuts, gutted education, shredded safety nets, dissembled voting rights and long-held protections for labor. 

Two of four winners of NextGen’s Stone Age awards are headed to Congress: Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO). The other two, Scott Brown (R-NH) and Terri Lynn Land (R-MI), lost to candidates with strong pro-climate platforms, Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Gary Peters (D-MI). Stone Age winners in the Governor’s races, Paul LePage (ME) and voters’ top choice – Rick Scott (FL) – have been re-elected.

In the primary, Joni Ernst made her priorities clear, but then moved to the center in the general election, as did many Republican candidates: impeach President Obama, privatize Social Security and personhood rights for fetuses.

"The next Congress will be controlled by politicians elected with millions of dollars of the Koch brothers’ oil money – putting at risk the vital environmental protections we’ve fought so hard to achieve," says Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth. 
Indeed, while Paul Ryan’s "Kochtopia" budget couldn’t pass while the Senate was under Democrat control, it’s a shoe-in now.

This isn’t what Americans want. But it is what Americans will now get.

Read our article, Right-Wingers Say, Top 10 Reasons to Oppose EPA Regulations.


Rona Fried is CEO of

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